Archive for the ‘animal oddities’ category

The “Real” Naked Mole Rat…

July 5, 2012

– – The real naked mole rat is even less attractive than the CG one featured in a recent MiO commercial, featuring wrinkled skin, stubby legs, and poor eyesight.  This rat native to East Africa is however a longevity champ, living 10 to 30 years as opposed to the three year life span of the common rat.  Although not  pretty, the rat also ages well, showing little of the slow decline in mental and physical health commonly associated with aging.  “Senior” naked mole rats maintain high levels of physical activity, strong bones, and can even continue to reproduce in their golden years!

The reason for this according to new research conducted in the U.S. and Israel seems to be unusually high levels of the NRG-1 protein, which is thought to protect the integrity of the body’s nerve cells.  This research could lead to new insights about human aging, and lest we feel too superior to them, rodents’ genes are 85% similar to humans!

Attack of the Killer Shrimp!

May 2, 2012

– – Some people have bucket lists of things that they want to do before they “kick the bucket,” that is, die…but I have a list of things to be worried about or afraid of, and I’ve just added something to that list…Run, ’cause there’s an invasion of Asian Tiger Shrimp!  I can see a Saturday night movie on the SciFy channel coming out of this, folks…

Now Asian Tiger Shrimp are not hideous mutants or skilled in the martial arts, although I could see them developed as potential adversaries for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They are, however,  jumbo shrimp, which as George Carlin pointed out was an oxymoron.  These are big suckers, measuring up to thirteen inches long and weighing up to a quarter pound, and they are cannibalistic…that’s right, shrimp that eat other shrimp.- -Isn’t that redundant?

Also known as tiger prawn, the black-and-white striped creatures are showing up in the Gulf of Mexico and Southeast coast, and are preying on smaller, native sea life as well as competing for resources and carrying  diseases…a triple threat, if you will.  Scientists don’t know exactly how the Asian variety got to the Gulf Coast, but marine ecologists are looking into the shrimp’s DNA for clues, with breeding in the local waters or conveyance by ocean currents possibilities.

And if Asian Tiger Shrimp team up with Asian Carp, we could have seafood that would eat you…or at least take your computers for their young!  I’m paying protection money while I still can…

Mythic Mayhem!

March 29, 2012

— It’s not easy being a demigod; everyone expects great things out of you!  Pity poor Perseus; as if whipping the Kraken wasn’t enough in 2010’s Clash of the Titans, now he has to beat a whole host of other assorted monsters in Wrath of the Titans.  There will be a slew of them to boot in this special effects extravaganza, everything from a thirty-foot high Cyclops to a Minotaur to my personal fave, a Chimera…I just like things with multiple heads and incongruous parts that spew fire, that’s the way I roll!  Mighty Kronos himself enters the fray,  just dripping with lava…what more could a boy want?  Yes, I know, robots, zombies, mummies, aliens, and werewolves are extremely cool too, but you can’t have them all in the same movie and preserve artistic integrity.- -Besides, I’d die of too much happiness!

While most of the beasties are computer generated, the Minotaur is played by an actor in a latex suit who underwent four hours of makeup for each day on the set!   You’ll also see Perseus’ noble winged steed Pegasus, and the demonic Makhai, who attack like whirling dervishes.  

This isn’t Shakespeare, but it’s good guy fun…and what’s wrong with that?  Wrath of the Titans opens March 30th…and it’s a cornucopia of creatures!!!– -Woo-hoo!

Cyclops Shark!

October 25, 2011

  – – It looks like it’s made of rubber, but it’s real…an albino fetal Cyclops shark cut from the belly of a pregnant dusky shark in the Gulf of Mexico this past summer.  Shark researchers have examined the preserved creature and found that its single eye is made of functional optical tissue…it’s unlikely, however, that the malformed shark would have survived outside of the womb. 

Less than 50 examples of an abnormality like this have been recorded in sharks.   Cyclopia is a rare developmental abnormality in which only one eye developsand it has been seen in a variety of species…

Janus Cats…

October 7, 2011

 – -They are not Photoshopped or the product of trick photography; meet Frank (left) and Louie (right), the world’s longest surviving Janus cat.  Named for the figure in Roman mythology with two faces on one head,  Janus cats seldom survive due to congenital defects that include cleft palate, often causing the afflicted animal to starve or choke to death.  Frank and Louie, however, beat the odds handsomely, using only one mouth to feed and making it to the ripe old feline age of 12 years. 

Originally taken by his breeder to be euthanized at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, Frank and Louie were instead adopted by a worker there, and have fared well since.  Residing in Worcester, Mass. the exotic blue-eyed rag doll cat boasts two faces, two mouths, two noses, and three eyes, and is a friendly soul who walks on a leash and loves car rides…

Howl Hitler?

May 27, 2011

 – – The Nazis weren’t much on human rights, but apparently were fond of animals and liked the idea that dogs were intelligent and could communicate with people.   According to a new book “Amazing Dogs:  A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities,”  Nazi specialists attempted to train an elite group of dogs regarded as intelligent to read, write, and speak!

Research from Cardiff University associate professor Dr. Jan Bondeson found that the Nazis collected pups from across Germany and put them through intensive training in the 1930’s at the Tier-Sprechschule ASRA (School for Dog-Human Communication) in the town of Leutenberg.  According to Dr. Bondeson, the hope was that the superior dogs would eventually communicate with their SS masters and act as the ultimate guard dogs. Where it gets really strange is in the contention that an institute-trained dog such as one named Rolf the Airedale could communicate with humans on such topics as  religion and mathematics by tapping out an elaborate code with his paw!  Another dog, Kurwenal, supposedly could crack jokes.

Hitler himself was widely recognized as a dog lover, and had two German Shepherds named Blondi and Bella.  Where talking dogs are concerned, we of course will always have Scooby-Doo…

Cartoon Cryptids

May 2, 2011

 – – Gossamer is a hulking, hairy reddish monster somewhat reminiscent of Bigfoot who is part of the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies universe.  He wears enormous tennis shoes,  and has a heart-shaped face in which may be seen oval eyes and a wide mouth.  Beyond these features and dirty clawed fingers, little else may be discerned about Gossamer, whose primary characteristic is the trademark hair; indeed, Gossamer may be made entirely of hair!   He is anything but gossamer, a name referring to a delicate type of spider silk.

First appearing in the 1946 film Hair-Raising Hare, Gossamer was the henchman of a mad scientist who bears a strong resemblance to Peter Lorre; if you don’t know who that is, you don’t watch enough old classic films !  Anyways,  Bugs Bunny is lured by a mechanical female rabbit to the lair of the mad scientist to be a meal for Gossamer, but makes merry sport of the monster instead (“I’m always interested in meeting interesting people!,” Bugs tells the creature while working on his nails).  Gossamer is revealed to be frightened of people, who it must be admitted can be pretty frightening. 

Originally nameless, Gossamer was referred to as Rudolph in a 1952 short, and didn’t land the name Gossamer until such was bestowed on him by none less than Marvin the Martian in the 1980 Duck Dodgers feature.  Gossamer has enjoyed small roles in a number of Warner Bros. productions since…